Congress never popular in South, but prez less so

by Kirk Ross

Seeing Red

George W. Bush may have carried the Southeast by a wide margin in 2004, but the only category he’s outdoing others in these days is in the percentage of Southeasterners who say his job performance sucks.

The recent Elon Poll puts it more nicely, of course, but Bush, whose job performance numbers in the region began to plummet in 2003, continues his descent with a new poll taken in the first weeks in November that shows his approval rating below that of Congress. In Texas terms that’s like walking under a rattler’s belly with yer hat on, for the Southeast has never been all that fond of Congress.

The Elon Poll, which surveyed households in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, revealed a majority – 57 percent – disapproved or strongly disapproved of the way Bush is handling the job. Only 34 percent approved or strongly approved. Drilled down further, the stats are even more revealing. The number who strongly disapprove is up to 39.5 percent and those who strongly approve are down to 10.2 percent, indicating that opinions are getting stronger.

Again, these are red states – or at least they are for now.

National polls conducted in the third week of this month by Rasmussen and Gallop also show Bush with negatives at 60 percent or above.

Further down the Elon Q&A, the president’s numbers don’t get any better with his handling of the economy, the war and impressions of whether we’re safer because of his actions. Congress doesn’t get high marks either, with a solid majority declining to express confidence in their ability to get anything done. The numbers, though, include both those who traditionally distrust Dems and the institution as wells as those to the left of the leadership calling for withdrawal, impeachment and a stiffer spine when dealing with the administration.

The final question in the poll also shows that the Southeast maintains its firm gasp of the obvious, with a full 63.8 percent saying that the relationship between Bush and Congress will get worse over the next year. Ya think?

Dole to the rescue

Foreclosures on the rise, big gamblers in the credit market taking huge write-downs and an economy driven largely by rising home prices under threat may have prompted other legislative leaders to consider hastening reforms and improvement to the mortgage industry. The House recently finished up its reform legislation, but thanks to our own Elizabeth Dole, reform legislation might take a little while longer to pass the Senate.

Dole, described this week by the Washington Post in that quaint inside-the-beltway lingo as a “friend” of the private mortgage insurance industry, put a hold on the Senate’s reform bill, which in part would strengthen the Federal Housing Administration. Naturally, a stronger FHA means bigger competition for the subprime lenders.

Dole dropped the hold last week after insisting on revised language, but her moves have underlined that any fix to the subprime mess is going to take a trip through the DC grinder, including a phalanx of industry lobbyists and their BFF from North Carolina.